Money & Materialism on the Spiritual Path
Financial Security on the Spiritual Path
It is easy to get entangled in the endless pleasures of materialism. The propaganda machine of commercialism is a finely tuned, highly developed and very effective system for getting you to believe that to be happy you must buy, buy, buy and have more, more, more. Lately, even I was feeling it’s tentacles reaching closer and closer to me. So what did I do… I did what any courageous, highly evolved, intelligent person would do… I ran away :-D.
Yes literally. I did. This past weekend, we packed our bags and headed off to the mountain regions of Vernon New Jersey and hid from the octopus of society. I can tell you it was a huge blessing, and it helped me to hear once again the music of my heart and therefore, get back on the path which leads to the Great Silence.
In the article, It’s Wonderful, but Dangerous to Your Meditation Practice, I wrote about the risk that a vacation can pose to the consistency of a burgeoning meditation practice, but here I want to point out that a timely vacation, taken in the right spirit, can also be a valuable tool to help you clear your head and regain your inspiration. Which is how I now feel after our getaway and here is a little about my trip.
Our room provided a great view and as I sat, staring out at the quiet, rolling hills I could feel the tentacles of the man made world starting to recede. The more time I spent breathing in the cool, fresh mountain air, the more I felt myself being rejuvenated and purified, till soon I started to feel the freedom that the circling hawk was certainly enjoying as he soared high above the valley, riding invisible winds under a cloudless blue sky.
Below I want to share some of the clarity regarding materialism that this excursion into nature helped bring forth.
Money, Pleasure & Career in Spirituality
1. Role of Money:
In the article, Money Money Money Mantra and the Path to Enlightenment, I emphasized that the best use of money in life, was to help you buy leisure, which is essential for the self-study required for spiritual evolution. Whether money helps you be free of a daily monotonous job, or it helps you buy household help, or it helps you acquire technology to save you time, as long as it’s buying you time, it’s being well spent, assuming of course, that the time it buys you is being well spent :-).
Of course, if you have sacrificed all your leisure in order to chase more and more money, you need to take a vacation.
2. Material Pleasure:
I am not against material pleasures. The key with material pleasures and material acquisitions, is your detachment to them. If you can be just as happy and completely undisturbed when you lose your BMW convertible, then it means you are not attached to it and therefore, are not enslaved by it. This applies to all forms of pleasure you may be extracting from your possessions, including the intangible ones related to boosting your ego and self image. Go ahead and enjoy material goods, but don’t end up dependent and attached to them in any way.
This of course brings up other complex issues, such as living lavishly and excessively, while others may not even have the bare essentials, and this is a personal lifestyle choice which deserves your conscious attention and reflection.
3. Work & Security:
Here is one of the hardest and most difficult aspects of spiritual living. In the article, 4 Vital Keys for Developing Mastery in Anything, key number 4 was "Don’t Worry About Survival". This is a highly debated and controversial concept. When I was in graduate school, my professor in Eastern Philosophy was a huge fan of J. Krishnamurti. The only point of his, which she struggled with was this concept of don’t worry about survival, life will take care of you somehow, just go after your passions. She said, he was rich most are not, perhaps, just perhaps he was being impractical.
This indeed is a hard one. For those of us with families and children, it is even harder :-). But at the end I have concluded that the Bible got it right, when it said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven, and all else shall be added onto you." Of course, this does not mean you can just sit around pray and not act, but it does mean that you should not obsess and be driven exclusively by security and finances. Just the words, "I will not worry about income and money," lifts a mountain off your chest.
Since having returned yesterday, I now find myself full of joy and happiness, relaxed with my life and simply enjoying the ease of being. So if you find yourself, on crossroads, or stressed by the pressures of the rat race, I strongly recommend a trip out into the wild, for reflection and introspection. In fact, I recommend time in nature everyday to keep you connected and balanced, as part of the 10 Things to do Daily for Enlightened Living. The one excuse you are not allowed to make in life is, "I didn’t know what I was doing". If you don’t know what the hell you are doing, who does?